Pragmatic leader – who is she/he?

There is a leader, not a boss

The Pragmatic Leader service, which I mention in the About page, is about issues related to being a leader. I put the thesis that a pragmatic leader is a servant leader who shows a hefty dose of pragmatism. He should look at himself and his team in many dimensions. In this post, I explain whom I understand by the term leader, servant leader, pragmatic leader.

People for whom the first two terms are clear I encourage to read about the last one and also the Pragmatic Leader section – is it all about business?

Leader vs. boss

There are leaders, and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or influence. Those who lead inspire us. Whether individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead not because we have to but because we want to. We follow those who lead not for them but for ourselves.

Book passageSimon Sinek. „Start with WHY”

Let’s start with the difference between the concept of boss and leader. By loading in the Oxford dictionary into the definition of the word boss, we can find the sentence “A person is in charge of a worker, group, or organization.” While for the leader word, we will find information “A person who leads or commands a group, organization, or a country.


We can say it that a boss is a person who performs a role, is higher in the organization’s hierarchy. So, if this person plays such a role, whether he likes it, he has some power over his subordinates. The boss, through his position, tells his aides what to do. So he gives orders and supervises people, making sure that the people he manages do the work as required. The role of the boss expects the ability to give instructions and commands.


The leader behaves differently than the boss. He shows the way to the destination, step by step. Above all, he is an inspirator, someone whom we are happy to follow. That is a person considered being someone who advises subordinates. The leader does not shout orders but shows by his behavior what others should do. Importantly, such a leader not only focuses on the effects but also on the process. The role of the leader is motivating rather than supervisory.

I want to clarify that both attitudes are useful in different situations. They can and should complement each other. In addition, we can entrust the role of the boss to leaders.

Servant leader

A servant leader is a person who implements the philosophy of Servant Leadership, i.e., serving the people we lead. In traditional leadership, the leader usually is focused on developing the company or organization. Such a leader puts the employees’ needs first and helps people develop and achieve the highest results. Thanks to such activities, the company and the organization also benefit.

In this philosophy, we reverse the roles – instead of an employee working for the leader; the leader serves the employees. When leaders change their way of thinking and first serve, they enrich themselves and their environment. Because their employees are developing, the organization also gains for the growing involvement of employees. We should emphasize it that since this kind of leadership style rises, many organizations adopted it as the leading one.

It is essential to understand that this is not about disregarding the needs of a company or organization. For example, if a company goes bankrupt, then the employee will not have any benefit. Here, we change the perspective or priority, recognizing that a committed, motivated employee is the foundation of the company. It is worth reading, for example, the book “Start with WHY” to understand this attitude better.

Pragmatic leader


A pragmatic leader is a concept I have been using for many years. For me, it is a person who stands firmly on the one hand, and on the other dares to move to another place if the conditions require it.

Where does the concept of a pragmatic leader come from? Let’s start with philosophy. Pragmatism is a philosophical trend shaped at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries in the United States. Colloquially, pragmatism is an attitude, which comprises a realistic assessment of reality, taking into account specific possibilities and taking actions that guarantee effectiveness.

In pragmatism, effectiveness is a measure of the usefulness of the method or used tool. Usability is the criterion for the truthfulness of judgments and concepts. This means that the courts are right because by accepting them we can act more effectively. We recognize it that action is a basic human need, and cognition – whether scientific or colloquial – performs an auxiliary function towards action.

My definition

A pragmatic leader is a person who, having various tools and methods available, acts optimally effectively in a particular environment. The above formulation can be controversial without comment. In addition, you can assume that the leader by “squeezing sweat and blood from the employee” works effectively for the company. Now, that’s too simplistic.

The leader we are talking about is a person who observes his colleagues, looks at what is right for them, but in a broader context. What is suitable for employees can change over time and in the environment? If we assume that utility is more general (, it can be a group or a company) then it turns out that supporting the employee supports what surrounds him. In other words, the basis is such employee involvement, that he treats the company in which he works as “his home,” a place he cares about.

When Baron and Hannan analyzed the collected data, they found that the only organizational culture that outclassed all other human capital management models was commitment-based.

Book passage: Charles Duhigg. „Smarter Faster Better”.

A pragmatic leader can switch from leader mode to directive mode (boss). He should always keep in mind the broader good that leads to the continuity of the group’s functioning.

Pragmatic leader – is it all about business?

Will the leader’s attitude can be found only in business? No! Also, I think it appeared in the industry later than in other matters of life, but we didn’t have to deal with it. Where can we observe the attitude of the leader? Here are a few of them (if you feel like describing an uncommon situation in which we can include such an approach, write to me):

  • Teacher – I believe that the best manifestation of such a role is a leader, or more precisely, a guide. I had the pleasure of experiencing contact with such people.
  • Team – in scouts, we will find many functions that allow fulfilling born leaders.
  • Coach – in sport, we can meet both bosses and leaders. When I was 14, I was at the judo sports camp. One of our colleagues did something wrong. The coach punished him in the form of running at the stadium. He was running with him. It builds respect.
  • Parent – yes! The parent’s role is a beautiful place for the guide. Unfortunately, many be the boss.

About author



I am a PhD in mathematics, always connecting the world of science, business and didactics. I have many years of experience in management, IT and science. I use a unique combination of my experiences and help others. I work as a consultant, trainer, mentor and coach.

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